Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone have had their mobile wallet joint venture approved by the European Commission.
The joint venture, dubbed Project Oscar, is designed to provide mobile commerce solutions to businesses, which include the likes of mobile wallets, mobile marketing and analytics.
The company had been under investigation by the European Commission since April. Three had attacked its rivals plans as 'anti-competitive'. However, the European Commission said this morning that it did not believe the joint venture would 'lead to a significant impediment to effective competition'.
Joaquín Almunia, the Commission VP in charge of competition policy, said: 'Mobile commerce is a nascent sector that may radically change the consumer buying experience in the next few years. The proposed joint venture is one of several initiatives to develop the sector in Europe. The Commission is keen on promoting innovation in this area and ensuring that the markets remain open so that a number of competing solutions can emerge without undue obstacles, to the benefit of consumers.'
In a statement, the three companies said they are keen to get Project Oscar up and running as soon as possible by hiring staff and creating a new company. They said the new company's initial priority would be a mobile marketing platform. It plans to create a single contact point for media agencies, retailers and brands to create campaigns for potentially millions of opted-in mobile users. The statement said: 'This will apply across the majority of handsets, operating systems and mobile operators. For consumers, this means they will be able to receive the discounts and offers that they want to receive from the brands that are relevant to them.'
The statement added that the move would accelerate the rollout of mobile wallets in the UK. Each company in the joint venture has been working on their own form of mobile payments, with Orange deploying its Quick Tap service in the Samsung Galaxy S III earlier this week. The statement said future services could also include loyalty cards.
The three operators are committed to making the services open to all companies, including operators, MVNOs, third party publishers, banks, advertising agencies and retailers. They added: 'The partners in the JV believe it has an important role to play in helping to keep the UK at the forefront of digital innovation, creating jobs, promoting innovation and stimulating competition.'
Editor: Graeme Neill